Teeth Whitening Explained: Myths, Methods, and Maintenance

Good oral hygiene and white teeth are two cornerstones of a healthy smile and self-confidence. The availability of whitening products has grown as more people seek to brighten their smiles, but do they all give the same results? 

There is no doubt it’s important to sort through the information about the products, the methods for teeth whitening, and the results achieved. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we will separate facts from fiction for this cosmetic dentistry treatment, discuss the different methods, and how to maintain that bright smile once you achieve it.

Myths About Teeth Whitening

To help you make the best decision on whitening products and methods, let’s break down the most common myths about teeth whitening and provide the facts:

#1 – The Enamel On My Teeth Will Be Damaged

If a professional is overseeing your treatment, this will not happen. Talk to your dentist about treatments available, which products to avoid, and the best whitening method for your teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) gives its seal of approval to those products deemed to be both safe and effective when used properly. High-quality, prescription-grade products like these contain desensitizing and remineralizing ingredients, such as fluoride, that will protect the enamel on your teeth. And you can count on your dentist only utilizing ADA-approved products.

#2 – Teeth Whitening Products Sold Over-the-Counter Perform as Effectively as Professional Treatments

They definitely have selling points, but the results with OTC products aren’t as effective. Whitening strips and whitening toothpaste sold in drugstores, when used according to the directions, have their uses, but professional treatments will give you more satisfying results. In-home kits sold to you by your dentist combine the convenience of OTC products but provide more noticeable whitening and protect the enamel on your teeth. (See more about these below.)

# 3 – All Types of Tooth Discoloration Can Be Whitened

Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Stains and discoloration caused by coffee, wine, or smoking can be whitened effectively. If a stain is the result of an injury or medication, however, your whitening efforts will be less effective. This is an important distinction to be aware of so that you won’t invest in a treatment that won’t meet your expectations. 

#4 – All-“Natural” Teeth Whitening Products Are Superior

“Natural” or “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, unless a method penetrates the teeth to break down the stain molecules, it isn’t any more effective or safer than anything else. Solutions containing lemon, baking soda, or strawberry damage the tooth enamel and even reduce the hardness significantly. 

Generally, what these natural products do is remove plaque built up on the teeth. There isn’t any deep cleaning of stains happening, which is what actually whitens the teeth. Plus, these products are usually more expensive.

The Different Methods of Teeth Whitening

Any teeth whitening treatment has pros and cons you should be aware of. For example, the OTC treatments are less expensive and easy to use at home. However, an OTC tooth whitening treatment can sometimes lead to enamel damage, gum irritation, and tooth sensitivity. As mentioned above, the most reliable and safest path to take is to rely on an experienced dentist for high-quality, effective treatment that provides a whiter, brighter smile. 

Keeping that in mind, here are the most common whitening methods used today: 

In-Office Whitening

This treatment is carried out with one or more visits to your dentist’s office, depending on your tooth’s sensitivity and the results you seek. A strong whitening solution is applied to your teeth and then ultraviolet light is used to intensify and speed up the whitening process. 

Zoom Whitening

One specific type of in-office whitening is Zoom whitening. This is a quick treatment that uses a solution that is a quarter hydrogen peroxide and uses an advanced blue light to maximize and speed up the teeth whitening process. Zoom is effective at eliminating stains, yellowing, and dark spots on the surface of teeth and can lighten teeth up to eight shades whiter.

Custom Whitening Trays

This whitening treatment is obtained from your dentist and consists of customized trays made in your dentist’s office. You then take them home and put the provided professional whitening gel in the trays (upper and lower teeth) and wear them for about an hour each day. Then, you can do touch-ups periodically once your teeth are as white as you want them.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Kits

These products come in strips, toothpaste, and rinses. They are easy to use but the bleaching agents aren’t as strong as treatments you’ll get from a dentist. As mentioned above, there is also the chance of tooth sensitivity or gum irritation.

Discuss the available whitening options with your dentist to determine which type of treatment may be best for your teeth to achieve the desired whiteness while still maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. 

Maintenance After Teeth Whitening

Once your teeth are whitened, you want to protect your results! Here is how to maintain whitened teeth and keep your bright, beautiful smile:

Stay Away from Foods and Drinks That Stain Teeth

Some drinks will re-stain your teeth over time. You’ll want to avoid coffee, red wine, and teas. If you do drink these, drink with a straw to reduce the contact with your teeth, and use water to rinse away any of these stain-causing beverages when you are done. Water is also necessary for your oral hygiene because it neutralizes acids and helps reduce the formation of plaque on your teeth.

Maintain A Solid Oral Hygiene Routine

The health of your teeth depends on routinely brushing, flossing, and using of mouthwash. You can avoid stains on your teeth before they happen by building this type of regime at an early age and then continuing it for the rest of your life. If you have your teeth whitened, though, a good oral hygiene routine is even more important to help avoid future staining.

See Your Dentist Regularly

It is important to keep a routine schedule of visits with your dentist. They’ll advise you about the best frequency of your visits for checkups and cleanings. In general, twice yearly is enough, but some factors require more. The purpose is to identify small problems with your teeth, including those that may cause staining, before they become large, expensive problems.

Are You Ready to Whiten Your Teeth?

The decision to whiten your teeth is a step forward toward a beautiful smile and increased self-confidence. There are a number of common myths about whitening products and several different methods to achieve white teeth, all with pros and cons. A basic understanding of these things will help keep your teeth safe while achieving the desired results. Make sure to get advice and input from your dental team to determine what may be best for your teeth.

If you are ready to ditch the dull and embrace a dazzling smile, schedule your Zoom whitening consultation with us at All Smiles Dentistry today! We can help you radiate confidence with every grin. Contact our office today!

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